One very common fallacy about this work that has been done is that FamilySearch.org Family Tree is a "source" for finding names to take to the Temple. I often hear of Wards or Stakes challenging their members, either youth or adults, to find a name within a specific time period as a challenge. This can be a simple as adding the names of parents or grandparents for recent converts, but for descendants of longtime members, this sort of challenge is unrealistic and can be very frustrating. The information in FamilySearch.org Family Tree comes mainly from 5 large historic databases; The Ancestral File, The Pedigree Resource File, the International Genealogical Index, Church Membership Records and Temple Records. None of these databases are particularly good for finding ancestors whose Temple work remains undone. Both the present Family Tree program and its predecessor, New.FamilySearch.org have indicators for potential Temple ordinance availability in the form of green arrows. In the Family Tree program there is also a ordinance alert called Temple "Opportunities."
For those who have joined the Church recently or whose ancestors were not members, the job of adding names that have not had the ordinances done previously is rather straight forward. It involves adding names to the Family Tree program from personal family records or, in many cases, those that are relatively easily obtained through research. For people with families that go back generations in the Church, the job of finding available names is more complex. It is not impossible that individuals, even in very researched family trees, may have been missed for Temple ordinances, but it has been now many years since the introduction of New.FamilySearch.org and Family Tree and members have been "mining" these programs for Temple ordinances for that period of time.
Nevertheless, there is a persistent belief that Family Tree is a source for even more names for Temple ordinances. In many cases, rather than follow the warnings and search for duplicates, the users have simply redone the ordinances. To some extent, that problem has been addressed in Family Tree. But it is still incumbent on the members to check carefully to see if the ordinance work has already been done. This is especially true for any ancestor who was already a member of the Church or their descendants.
For more specific information about research ancestors who were members of the Church, see the following links:
- Tracing LDS Ancestors
- Websites for LDS Research
- Ten great LDS family history databases
- Finding Records of LDS Ancestors
These articles and the video should get you started. Remember, it is very likely that anyone you find in FamilySearch.org Family Tree has already had all of their ordinances done, whether or not they are shown in the program. There are exceptions but you need to proceed with caution.